The Livability Project adheres to a holistic approach to sustainability. We provide the tools and guidance needed to implement structural practices, while recognizing that regional differences exist in any green community, from community engagement and organizational structures to raising funds. We believe that what works in one community won’t always work in another. That is why we’ve developed a systematic way of Assessing the Community. By using this tool, you will gain insights into your community’s existing strengths and challenges, why it functions the way it does, and ideas for accelerating what already works.
A Community Assessment is much like a situation analysis, and can be the first step of the Livability Framework™ process. In this assessment, your community analyzes its unique attributes, key players and the dynamics affecting your ability to launch green initiatives. Insights gained from the Community Assessment will serve as a backdrop for your progression through the Livability Framework modules, and will be useful in creating a customized action plan for your community.
As part of the Community Assessment process, it’s important to bring together several key community members to answer and reflect on the questions (found in a separate Questionnaire). This includes leaders and members from the local business, government, education and civic sectors.
The assessment begins with questions focusing on your community’s unique attributes, key economic sectors, and challenges. It encourages you to consider what changes you would like to see in your community and why, and to name those whom you consider to be the true change agents in your community. Next, the assessment focuses on your community’s leadership structure before moving on to analyzing existing relationships. You’ll also take an inventory of your community’s assets, gaps and resources.
Assessing the Community can be a powerful first step in your sustainability initiative. The lessons learned from the Community Assessment serve as a roadmap, showing where your community comes from and where it is going. It reveals the good, the bad, the challenging, and the uplifting about your community. It can show you things that you never before realized about a place you thought you knew quite well. Communities are eco-systems. There are many attributes unique to each place, which we refer to as assets.
Although we recommend that you start with this phase, it is not required. Each community initiative is in a different phase of its process. However, if you begin your initiative with a Community Assessment, you will find that it will greatly accelerate the launch of your initiative. Completing the Assessing the Community Questionnaire will provide you with the insights and mapping needed to accomplish your goals regardless of where you are in the process.
For more information about how you can implement an assessment in your own community, contact Heather Gwaltney.